Western Michigan University ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

On October 5th, 2018, I received Western Michigan University’s Alumni Achievement Award for my work in Comparative Religion. It was an honor to join Dr. Stephen Covell, the Chair of WMU’s Comparative Religion Department, and Dr. Carla Koretsky, Dean of WMU’s Arts and Sciences, at the ceremony and the subsequent dinner. WMU continues to be a world class institution with amazing scholars in the field of Religious Studies. See their link below.

WMU Department of Comparative Religion

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To view the information on the other recipients, see the link below:

WMU Alumni Achievement Award 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

POPE FRANCIS AND THE MUSLIMS

This lecture was given on March 19, 2019, for the Muslim Studies Program at Michigan State University, directed by Dr. Mohammad Khalil. In it, I discuss the 800 year anniversary of the meeting between Saint Francis and Sultan Malik al-Kamil, in Damietta, Egypt. From a Habermasian perspective, I argue that such an encounter can be translated into a template for discourse between religious and non-religious citizens within the post-secular society. This lecture is closely related to my book Islam in a Post-Secular Society: Religion, Secularity, and the Antagonism of Recalcitrant Faith (Brill, 2017; Haymarket, 2018). The book is also available in Arabic through Mo’minoun Without Borders (Rabat, Morocco)

Islam in a Post-Secular Society: Religion, Secularity, and the Antagonism of Recalcitrant Faith

https://www.mominoun.com/

 

Here’s the Soundcloud version of the lecture:

 

The Book, A Critique of Ayn Rand’s Philosophy of Religion: The Gospel According to John Galt, is out in paperback in August of 2019!

Back in 2013-2014, amidst the political chaos of the “astroturf” Tea Party Patriot Movement, I wrote the book A Critique of Ayn Rand’s Philosophy of Religion: The Gospel According to John Galt (2015), wherein I demonstrated that prophetic Abrahamic religions cannot be reconciled with Ayn Rand’s militantly-atheist Objectivist “philosophy.” I warned that if such right-wing pseudo-philosophy was not adequately addressed, it could lead to something worse. That prediction, unfortunately, has proven to be correct, with the increasing presence of palingenetic ultra-nationalists groups forming in North America and Europe.

The book has had success, both at dissolving the false reconciliation between religion and Randianism, and at triggering misguided Randian ire. Ayn Rand’s devotees attacked the book because I point out precisely what Rand herself pointed out: her “philosophy” is irreconcilable with religion, and her deification of money, wealth, capitalism, is antithetical to the anti-idolatry Abrahamic traditions as well as the Enlightenment. Ironically, her “philosophy” serves as an ersatz-religion for many of her most devoted admirers, a collectivist-reality which began already when she was alive and continues to this day.

Thanks to the ongoing discourse over the book, Lexington Books, a division of Rowman & Littlefield, is releasing a paperback version of the book in September of 2019. It can be purchased at Rowman & Littlefield’s website, Amazon, or any other reputable bookseller.

Buy your copy here

Islam in a Post-Secular Society: Religion, Secularity, and the Antagonism of Recalcitrant Faith (Arabic Translation by Mohammed Aafif )

I’m pleased to announce that the Arabic translation of my book Islam in a Post-Secular Society: Religion, Secularity, and the Antagonism of Recalcitrant Faith (Brill, 2016; Haymarket, 2018), is now available in paperback. It was translated by Mohammed Aafif of Mohammed V University, Rabat, Morocco. It can be purchased at:

http://www.mominoun.com

 

Ayatollah Khomeini and the Anatomy of the Islamic Revolution in Iran: Toward a Theory of Prophetic Charisma (2011)

This book attempts to explain how and why Ayatollah Khomeini was able to lead the Iranian people in their successful revolution against the Shah of Iran. Bringing together the sociological study of charisma by the sociologist Max Weber and the critical psychology of Erich Fromm, especially his analysis of the “prophet” and “priest,” Byrd develops a theory of “prophetic charisma,” which attempts to explain how Khomeini’s thoughts and actions made him uniquely qualified to guide Iran from under the Shah’s dictatorship. He pays close attention to the importance of authority, and how Khomeini’s authority to lead the revolution is tied with the charismatic authority that began with the prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, Byrd concentrates on the relationship between Khomeini and the political Marxist-Leninists movements and groups in Iran at the time of the revolution. The book demonstrates how his “Islamization” of leftist language helped infuse a radical Islamo-Marxist critique of the Shah into the Iranian masses. Byrd shows how Khomeini not only benefited from the Left’s activities in Iran but also how their critical analysis of the Iranian situation influenced Khomeini’s own thoughts and language.

University Press of America (2011) ISBN: 978-0761854852 130 pp. $31.99

This book can be purchased on Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles, and other enlightened bookstores. Or, it can be purchased directly from the publisher at:

Buy your copy here

 

Out Now: Ali Shariati and the Future of Social Theory: Religion, Revolution and the Role of the Intellectual.

I’m pleased to announce Seyed Javad Miri and I’s new co-edited book on Ali Shariati, the revolutionary theorist who was instrumental in the removal of the U.S. imposed dictator of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi Shah. This book is comprised of fourteen essays written by scholars from numerous countries, all exploring the work, legacy, and continual relevance of Ali Shariati’s thought and praxis. It would be of interest to those who study revolutionary philosophy, critical sociology, Iranian history, political Islam, and Islamic liberation theology.

The book was released in hardcover in the winter of 2017 by Brill (Leiden, Netherlands).

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Out Now: The Paperback version of Ali Shariati and the Future of Social Theory, by Haymarket Books.

Buy the Haymarket Books softcover here

A Review from an Amazon customer:

Imperius Rex: “Perhaps the Foundational Work on Ali Shariati”

Although relatively unknown in Western circles, Ali Shariati is perhaps one of most important and influential Muslim thinkers of the twentieth century. Through his unique synthesis of Shi’ite liberation theology and Marxist thought, Shariati provided an intellectual foundation for the Iranian Revolution and has continued inspire modernist Islamic thinkers and Muslim leftists to this day. That being said, this book provides a comprehensive and thorough analysis and critique of Shariati’s thought from a multitude of perspectives, and can only be described as one of the most important works on Shariati to date. Though there are times where this book comes off as a bit too academic for some readers, I think that it is an important read for any Muslim who is interested in a modernist take and application of Islamic teachings as well as anyone who is interested in learning more about Ali Shariati and his ideas. Overall, I highly recommend this book and hope that other Muslim thinkers are given similar coverage in the future.

 

Out Now: Unfashionable Objections to Islamophobic Cartoons: L’affaire Charlie Hebdo

On January 7, 2015, two armed men dressed in masks made their way into the offices of Charlie Hebdo, intent on killing those who had drawn derisive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. The satirical magazine based in Paris was well-known for its mockery of politicians, right-wing extremists, racists, and religious figures, including the Pope, Jews, Christians and Muslims. Once inside, the two gunmen shot and killed twelve employees, including the magazines editor and cartoonist, Stéphane Charb Charbonnier. Although Charb often claimed to defend minorities, especially Muslims, against the rising tide of racism in France, all in the name of the French Enlightenment, he nevertheless fell victim to the dialectic of the Enlightenment, in which the Enlightenment itself is functionalized as a tool of repression. This book critiques the political philosophy of Stéphane Charbonnier, showing how the new Enlightenment Fundamentalism of the political left contributes to the Islamophobic politics of Europes neo-fascist right. Drawing on the perspectives of the Frankfurt School for Social Research, it highlights that a true commitment to the Enlightenment ideals requires that the secular left and religious communities enter into a discourse by which they can find common ground. Without such an engagement, the secular left will increasingly isolate itself from the prophetic, emancipatory and liberational elements within Abrahamic religion, especially Islam. In doing this, those committed to the Enlightenment abandon a key ally in the struggle against the barbarity of neo-liberalism, nationalism, and neo-fascism, which now threatens to overcome Europe and America. Thus, the secular Cain must not slay the religious Abel, but rather find a way to live as brothers and allies in an increasingly dark world.

Cambridge Scholars Press (2017) ISBN:978-1443891240  179 pp.

This book can be purchased on Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles, and other recalcitrant bookstores. It can also be bought direct from the publisher at

Cambridge Scholars Press

 

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